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January 04, 2005

Meet the Fockers

2004.USA.Roach

2.0 / 4.0

Meet the Fockers is an attempt to cash in on the success of Meet the Parents, a far superior film. It uses the same premise, but with wackier, less believable characters (the best sequence involves a baby and Scarface). It would be uninteresting trash if it weren’t for two things. First, the film’s form fits its content. The Fockers celebrate the mediocrity of their son, Gaylord, by erecting a shrine-like wall of fame for him, filled with seventh placed ribbons at disciplines such as bread making. So too Jay Roach’s direction emphasizes its own blandness. Unlike most films, Meet the Fockers accepts its own insignificance. There is also a question of politics, emphasized by the casting of Dustin Hoffman, an outspoken liberal, as Bernie Focker. Pitted against DeNiro’s Jack Byrnes, the two engage in a battle of ideologies that the film plays out on a battleground of child rearing. On a historical scale, Byrnes represents the Cold War style of American foreign policy based on an arms race, represented by the Byrnes RV, and spheres of influence, or “circles of trust”. Focker, on the other hand, is more environmentally conscious and socially aware, while still not being a push over. In a pivotal scene he injures Byrnes by unexpectedly crashing into him during a football game, his arms stretched out like airplane wings. That Byrnes eventually acts, by injecting Gaylord with truth serum, on bad intelligence may also suggest other connections. Overall, Meet the Parents is an unfunny, bad and darn interesting film.

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